Whitworth president presents state of university address at ASWU meeting

Current affairs, ongoing issues and future plans for Whitworth was the topic of the ASWU meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 17. President Beck Taylor presented the State of University Address, a collection of facts and figures relating to Whitworth affairs. The first issue addressed was the destruction of the trees. Taylor talked about the work of the grounds crew over the summer and the plan to diversify the Whitworth canopy by reforesting a variety of trees.

A large part of the presentation covered the budget challenges of last year. The $2.5 million budget cut was due to missed enrollment targets, financial aid expense and not fully incorporating an undergrad enrollment plan.

A budget cut meant putting maintenance items on hold, reducing insurance, leaving some faculty and staff lines open and one-time expense reductions across all divisions. All of those changes come back this year, as they were temporary expense reductions.

The budget shortage for this year is projected to be $1.7 million which had to be covered by making decisions such as closing the Costa Rica center, implementing a student fee for the Health Center and decreasing the printing page allotment, Taylor said. A task force that included student leadership and university council input was responsible for making the decisions.

Those cuts added up to about $1.3 million. The difference was made up by a 4 percent increase in tuition, the lowest increase in 13 years. The hope is to keep the tuition increase as low as possible, Taylor said.

On the 10th day of classes, an enrollment census is taken of all the students. The institutional headcount is currently 2,983 students, the second-largest enrollment in Whitworth history. The freshman class has 619 students, and full-time day students account for 2,260 of the overall enrollment. Whitworth’s rate of first-year students returning a second year is 85 percent.

Taylor also composed a list of highlights from the 2013-2014 school year. The list included the Million Meals campaign, the Pirates winning their seventh straight Mcllroy-Lewis Trophy and Whitworth being named third best regional university values in the western United States.

Campus safety and security has become more urgent in response to the shooting at Seattle Pacific University in June. A full-scale SWAT exercise and simulation was performed on campus over the summer. A campus active shooter drill will be performed on Nov. 6 so that faculty, staff and students are aware of how to react should a threat appear. The hope is that the drill will expose weaknesses in the Whitworth security systems so they can be fixed.

Other security services are being improved, Taylor said. Up to this point, students have had an option to receive Rave alert emergency texts and emails, a system similar to AMBER Alert. Soon this will be a mandatory service for every student unless one specifically asks to have his or her phone number removed from the service list. The blue poles around campus have the ability to broadcast messages, new video monitors are being installed around campus and interior locks will be put into classrooms. Preparation for weather emergencies such as snow and storms are being improved as well.

More information on the breakdown of funds, the Costa Rica center and the active shooter drill will be made public after further discussion with task forces and university councils, Taylor said.

 

Rebekah Bresee

News Editor

Contact Rebekah Bresee at

rbresee16@my.whitworth.edu

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